Wednesday, January 15, 2014

501: Buddhist Awakening

In lecture 498 I already brought a question to your attention, which still is on my mind. It is about human behavior and Buddhism, but also Christianity.

The historical Buddha did not write down any of his teachings, they were passed down orally from generation to generation for at least three centuries. Neither did the historical Jesus or Mohammed.

Decades or even centuries later books are written, which are regarding the content attributed to these historical persons and people, whole nations or should I say “tribes” gather around these ideas and call it a belief, a religion. At least something that transcends our (biological) reality.

In China  from Buddhism the Taoists borrowed their whole scheme of temples, priests, nuns, and ritual. They drew up liturgies to resemble the Buddhist sutras , and also prayers for the dead. A process of centuries.

In Europe you see the same happen. A system of temples, which we call churches, liturgies and rituals emerge through the centuries, also assimilating aspects of pagan rituals.

Among all living creatures on this globe, the homo sapiens is the only one who displays this behavior. And I wondered….. why is this behavior conly related with three individuals of thousands of years ago?

Then I realized , that this isn’t special or unique behavior at all. Sure, it doesn’t happen every day. We are dealing here with very slow historical processes, but it has happened recently again.

That is, around 1848, Karl Marx. He wrote a book. Whole masses adopted the ideas from the book and thus built their belief. And you see the same behavior: gathering in large groups, prayers… well they call it militant songs, the building of temples, which they call a mausoleum or  the Hall of the Proletariat.

So yet it appears to be common human behavior as a consequence of having the brains, we have. We don’t observe it in other animals or you might suggest ,that all that all these peculiar mating rituals of other animals are perhaps related to our behavior.

As I told you before, I want to discuss Confucianism, Taoism and also Buddhism as a philosopher, even though  some like to call these -isms religions.

We don’t need to deny the existence of religiosity in the homo sapiens. We only have to differentiate between two layers here. On the one hand a first layer, which contains all beliefs, rituals, temples, churches etc. and which are regarded as symbols of religions

And on the other hand the second layer, which all these historical developments have in common: ethics. Whether it is Buddhism or Marxism, they both try to explain the essence of human existence, its goal and thence what is good and bad, right and wrong.

Due to the social position of a (dominating) religion in a society this ethical debate is a permanent feature of our consciousness. This makes me think of something else.

When material wealth increases like in our highly developed societies, we observe a proces of secularisation, people abandoning their religious beliefs. Not only among christians, but (at least in the Netherlands) equally among muslims. 

And it almost seems to me that, what is left as a permanent feature of consciousness today, is simple greed and craving for material wealth, in stead of the permanent ethical debate.

What is the input of Buddhism here? The story according to Jack Kornfield, an American author and teacher in the vipassana movement ( in the Buddhist tradition it means insight into the true nature of reality) in American Theravada Buddhism.

After the Buddha was enlightened he was walking down the road in a very happy state. He was supposed to have been quite a handsome prince before going off to be a monk. 

So here's this handsome prince now recently enlightened, wearing golden robes and obviously quite happy, and very special from all accounts. And he met some people and they said, 

"You seem very special. What are you, are some kind of an angel or a deva?" He seemed inhuman in some way. 
"Well, are you some kind of a god then?" 
"Well, then are you some kind of a wizard or magician?" "No," he replied. 
"Well, are you a man?" 
"No," he said. 
"Then what are you?" 
And he answered, "I am awake."

And in those three words --"I am awake"-- he gave the whole teaching which Buddhism contains. To be a Buddha is to be one who has awakened, awakened to the nature of life and death and the world in which we live, awakened to the body and mind. 

So the purpose of practicing meditation, the Buddhist and other traditions, is not to become a meditator, or a spiritual person, or a Buddhist, or to join something. Rather, it is to understand this capacity we have as humans to awaken.

So, if you have fallen asleep during this lecture, the next lectures on Buddhism may perhaps awaken you.

The Discussion

[13:22] Nectanebus: heheh
[13:22] herman Bergson: Thank you :-))
[13:22] CONNIE Eichel: :)
[13:22] Bejiita Imako: hahaha
[13:22] Nectanebus: nice
[13:22] Zanicia: hehehe
[13:22] Bejiita Imako: ¨no im just meditating
[13:22] Lizzy Pleides: lol
[13:22] Bejiita Imako: not sleeping
[13:22] Bejiita Imako: lol
[13:22] Nectanebus: Almost anthropological, if truth be told ;)
[13:22] Merit Coba: Hmm.. what?
[13:22] herman Bergson: Good!
[13:22] herman Bergson: Yes, Nectanebus ...seems so
[13:22] Zanicia: (politely stifles a yawn)
[13:22] Gemma Allen: i have to disagree on the idea of it being a religion... many people of all religions follow the buddhist way of life
[13:23] Bejiita Imako: inded buddhism is a bit different
[13:23] herman Bergson: Yes Gemma, I agree...
[13:23] Bejiita Imako: and i like how it wrks
[13:23] Ciska Riverstone: maybe you can call it a religion because there are still some people who do practize it that way
[13:23] Nectanebus: The opening parts about monkeys and religion made me think of 2001, and the idea that religion acts as a moral ballast is something I have been talking about with a few friends...with nothing to take the place of divine authority, along come base desires....
[13:24] herman Bergson: That is the point Ciska....
[13:24] herman Bergson: There are temples with big statues....
[13:24] herman Bergson: incense is burned...rituals are performed
[13:24] Gemma Allen: true
[13:24] Bejiita Imako: one difference is here you don’t pray for a supernatural being but a real person
[13:24] Gemma Allen: but not worshipped
[13:25] Zanicia: that isn'y philosophy, that is conforming to and inventing tradition
[13:25] bombadail: Is the lecture part over?
[13:25] Merit Coba: it is when it is
[13:25] Gemma Allen GIGGLES!!
[13:25] Gemma Allen: ...LOL...
[13:25] Gemma Allen: yep now we can talk
[13:25] FreeWee Ling: The label is irrelevant. Religion, belief, credo, ethic.
[13:25] Bejiita Imako: i guess buddhism is something between religion and philosophy you can say
[13:25] herman Bergson: Yes it is Bombadail :-)
[13:25] Bejiita Imako: and i like the ideas it have
[13:25] Ciska Riverstone: some folks call that spirituality Bejiita ,)
[13:25] Bejiita Imako: yes
[13:26] Ciska Riverstone: its trying to catch the center of it all.
[13:26] Laila Schuman: there are different kinds of Buddhism... i feel... some have no supernatural beings and some have them
[13:26] Bejiita Imako: if there is one religion id liked mostly id say its buddhism
[13:26] Laila Schuman: and that is confusing
[13:26] FreeWee Ling: What I learned from Buddha is sitting under a tree and thinking about things until you figure it out for yourself.
[13:26] Bejiita Imako: and its peaceful, no wars violence and so like in other religions
[13:26] Bejiita Imako: and no oppression of women and similar
[13:27] Nectanebus: I should say I fail to see a distinction between religious symbology and its patterns of thought, rather that they seem to be interlinked. The Jesuit Seal or Bagua Trigrams instantly spring to mind as examples of how macro/micro, or even exo-/eso-teric, can be mutually linked....
[13:27] Bejiita Imako: this religion is not to gain power over people but to see natures way
[13:27] herman Bergson: Well, the basic idea of buddhism is yet 'suffering'
[13:27] Nectanebus: Truth, Herman :)
[13:27] Bejiita Imako: yes
[13:27] FreeWee Ling: Suffering was Buddha's truth.
[13:27] Bejiita Imako: might be but the concept of buddhism is yet very different
[13:28] Nectanebus: Samsara is pretty much the core of the techings, along with moksha....sorry, "Nirvana" ;)
[13:28] herman Bergson: We'll elaborate on this concept in coming lectures
[13:28] FreeWee Ling: What he figured out for himself was a path for himself.
[13:28] Gemma Allen: I have mixed feeling about the original Guatama himself
[13:28] Nectanebus: I prefer Bodhidharma, but I'm biased towards people that stare at things.
[13:28] Ciska Riverstone: true freewee
[13:28] herman Bergson: There is no authentic Gautama, I would say Gemma
[13:29] Gemma Allen: I mean the one who sat under the tree
[13:29] herman Bergson: Only three centuries after his historical appearance his ideas were written down
[13:29] Bejiita Imako: ah
[13:29] Gemma Allen: after abandoning his wife and family to go do that
[13:29] Nectanebus: The Laozi enigma again and again...
[13:29] herman Bergson: That is just a story to me...
[13:30] FreeWee Ling: He was a bit of a jerk. lol.. "I gotta be me!"
[13:30] Zanicia: hehe
[13:30] bombadail: Are you speculating a herman that humans are the only ones with a drive to organize around a moral seemed so to me...yet very clearly in experiments it has been observed that animals exhibit a very strong sense of fairness and sense of justice too...they just obviously don't have our language and brain attributes.
[13:30] Gemma Allen: WaaaHaHAhahAHA! AhhhhHAhahhAHhahHAH! haha!
[13:30] herman Bergson: About Rousseau, who wrote on education, we know that he left his wife and children indeed :-)
[13:30] Ciska Riverstone: The ego trip of loosing that one ;)
[13:30] Bejiita Imako: hehe
[13:30] Gemma Allen: my feelings freewee
[13:30] Corronach: Rousseau was the worst mysoginist around
[13:31] Corronach whispers: :)
[13:31] Dag: here we go from philosophy into psychology
[13:31] herman Bergson: I know you are refering to de Waal's experiments with the Capicin monkeys Bombadail
[13:31] Nectanebus: I disagree, Freewee, I'd recommend re-reading the Pali Canon....he found a middle path, and as far as his attitude to his family...well let's just say that things are products of their times in moralistic regards and Buddhism is an Indian base....also, asceticism has rather strong bindings...
[13:32] Gemma Allen: true
[13:33] FreeWee Ling: I was being facetious. His personal life is irrelevant. His philosophy was about pain and suffering and compassion.
[13:33] herman Bergson: I guess it is no waste of time to spend some more lectures on Buddhism...:-)
[13:33] Nectanebus: Ah, hard to see that textually, I guess.
[13:33] bombadail: what I am saying then is the desire to decipher right from wrong is not unique to humans
[13:33] FreeWee Ling: But I still contend that what he found was personal truth, not universal. Buddhism is a corruption.
[13:34] Nectanebus: I'm surprised we haven’t moved on to situational ethics already, it's not like any moral stands up to the gun to you kid test anyway unless someone's cutting their nose to spite their face.
[13:35] Nectanebus: And as far as personal versus universal goes...that's the problem of communism on paper vs reality again, I'd wager. It's work if everyone could just get along, but that's an unlikely prospect.
[13:35] herman Bergson: One correction here FreeWee...I don't think it was a personal Buddha, who generated these ideas but a cuture during three centuries of oral tradition
[13:35] Ciska Riverstone: well in a way he stated that with the four reliances freewee
[13:35] Gemma Allen: that would relate back to the written about not by
[13:35] Nectanebus: I doubt ANY of the historical bigwigs existed as written, we just happen to have paper trails to the origin of the mythos. Jesus is a good example: he's there in the Roman records at around about the right time, the rest is hearsay.
[13:36] Gemma Allen: interesting
[13:36] herman Bergson: That is true Nectanebus
[13:36] Ciska Riverstone: yes nectanebus
[13:36] FreeWee Ling: That's my point. Buddha himself may have had a great idea. What developed later as Buddhism was not his idea.
[13:36] Ciska Riverstone: we want "heros" seem to be our nature
[13:37] Bejiita Imako: might be
[13:37] FreeWee Ling: Role models anyway.
[13:37] herman Bergson: That you cant say FreeWee....because we have no idea of what Buddha himself ever has said
[13:37] Gemma Allen: Yes-ah!
[13:37] Gemma Allen: it seems
[13:38] herman Bergson: The most interesting point to me here is that such a collection of ideas get such a status in society
[13:38] Mikki Louise: How are these figureheads different from people today? Such as the leaders of the Mormon religion... why do people look at these men as con artists? Is it purely passage of time and spread of (their / interpreted) teachings?
[13:38] herman Bergson: which then are assembled under one name....Buddha, Jesus, Mohammed....
[13:39] herman Bergson: That is in line with what I wondered Mikki....
[13:39] FreeWee Ling: The problem is not so much who's right, but when they start insisting everyone else is wrong.
[13:39] Zanicia: yes
[13:39] Gemma Allen: :-)
[13:39] Ciska Riverstone: maybe the basis is our need for the belief that someone knows it all - if not we ourselves - a security thing.
[13:39] herman Bergson: why did it happen to these three persons...?thousands of years ago?
[13:39] Ciska Riverstone: true freewee.
[13:40] herman Bergson: If you add Marx to the debate there may be an explanation
[13:40] Nectanebus: ?
[13:40] herman Bergson: Marx 'Das Kapital' became the bible for a society in social exploitation of people
[13:40] FreeWee Ling: Why do you single out these three? There were many others. These 3 just got a lot of Facebook followers.
[13:41] Ciska Riverstone: ahahhaha
[13:41] Qwark Allen: for some reason, when you said its hapening now, i thought you were going to talk about "john frum"
[13:41] herman Bergson: That must be the explanation FreeWee :-)
[13:41] Zanicia: hahaha sweet modern girl!
[13:41] Bejiita Imako: interesting this for sure
[13:41] Bejiita Imako:
[13:41] Qwark Allen: i can imagine in 2000 years john frum will be a divinity like the other ones
[13:41] herman Bergson: Who is John Frum?
[13:42] Qwark Allen: the one from the cargo cult
[13:42] Nectanebus: As long as Dawkins isn't hailed as a hero, I'm fine.
[13:42] FreeWee Ling: Springsteen.
[13:42] herman Bergson: Doesn’t ring a bell :-)
[13:42] Mikki Louise: lol
[13:42] Ciska Riverstone: ow - some folks will try Nectanebus
[13:42] Qwark Allen: we didn`t talk about the cargo cult here last year?
[13:42] Merlin: Dont worry we wont last 2000 years
[13:42] Gemma AllenGemma Allen GIGGLES!!
[13:42] Gemma Allen: ...LOL...
[13:43] Qwark Allen: hahaah you have to look for it then
[13:43] Bejiita Imako: indeed its true that ideas get manipulated along the way before they take the final shape of a religion
[13:43] Nectanebus: I think the obligatory Nietzsche quote needs to be put out there, who's game?
[13:43] Qwark Allen: that is the most interesting example of nowadays born of a religion
[13:43] Nectanebus: oops, I mean Voltaire  
[13:43] Qwark Allen: it started back in the 2d WW
[13:43] Bejiita Imako: aaa yes, isn’t children of corn and wicker man based on that?
[13:43] herman Bergson: Nietzsche might do too :-)
[13:44] Nectanebus: I was thinking of If God did not exist, we would have to invent him
[13:44] Nectanebus: but Got ist Tod works as well, different trains of the same though I guess
[13:44] .: Beertje :.:
[13:44] herman Bergson: We did Nectanebus
[13:44] Nectanebus: sorry, having trouble keeping up...for once...
[13:45] Qwark Allen: when a reporter asked a cargo cult priest about their wait for the return of john frum, the priest asked back - aren`t you waiting for the return of jesus at 2000 years? well we have not waited that much then
[13:45] Nectanebus: Zing!
[13:45] herman Bergson: save Nectanebus' brain....thank you all for your participation again....
[13:46] CONNIE Eichel: :)
[13:46] herman Bergson: in the meantime you can wait for the return of Jesus then :-)
[13:46] Zanicia: Thank YOU Proff!
[13:46] Bejiita Imako: hehehehe
[13:46] herman Bergson: Thank you all
[13:46] Bejiita Imako: now this was great
[13:46] Gemma Allen: what is this field trip herman???
[13:46] herman Bergson: Class dismissed
[13:46] Bejiita Imako:
[13:46] Nectanebus: thanks Mr. B
[13:46] herman Bergson: See you again on Thursday :-))
[13:46] Ciska Riverstone: thank you herman
[13:46] Bejiita Imako: cu soon all
[13:46] Corronach: thanks Herman
[13:46] Nectanebus: Back to the bike sheds...
[13:46] Lizzy Pleides: Thank you Herman!
[13:47] Guestboook van tipjar stand: Qwark Allen donated L$100. Thank you very much, it is much appreciated!
[13:47] Merlin: bye Herman and every one
[13:47] herman Bergson: Bye Merlin
[13:47] Mikki Louise: Thank you Herman, good to see a full house
[13:47] CONNIE Eichel: great time, as always :)
[13:47] Bejiita Imako: yes were lots of people here today
[13:47] herman Bergson: Thank you CONNIE
[13:47] Gemma Allen: Yes-ah!
[13:47] CONNIE Eichel smiles
[13:47] Gemma Allen: Bye, Bye   

[13:47] Gemma Allen: for now

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